Why self-reviews?

Hi all,

On a couple occasions recently, an L3 checklist was returned citing an insufficient self-review, even though the self-review had previously been validated by the Verification Committee. Let me explain why this is happening and clarify the purpose and standards of the self-review.

Self-reviews are a great tool to check where you are and where you’re going. It’s a useful exercise to do either periodically or after significant events. It helps you formulate a self-development plan and check that you’re following it at the desired pace. It’s first and foremost a tool for your own benefit and it works even if no one else than yourself reads the self-review.

So why do we even require it in the L3 process? There are two main reasons:

  1. For yourself, in order to make sure you know about the value of this tool and don’t scatter your efforts all over the place. Writing a self-review might help you realize that you’ve already achieved much more than you thought, and what’s left in order to become L3 is a focused effort in a small number of areas. Or it might help you realize the road is longer than you thought, and in that case it helps you choose the next checkpoint, when you will update the self-review.
  2. For others, in order to show your mentors that you’re serious about self-improvement and that they can too spend some effort mentoring you towards L3. Writing an L3 recommendation is a significant investment on the part of your mentor, so the self-review is the least you can do to show them you’re serious too.

As a reminder, there are two moments in the L3 process where we ask for a self-review, in bold:

  1. Submit an initial self-review to the Verification Committee.
  2. Ask for L3 recommendations.
  3. Submit a complete checklist, including a self-review.
  4. The checklist is validated and you proceed to testing and interviewing.

You can use the same one at both moments, although it’s often a good idea to update it between these moments (process requires update after 6 months). Let me explain why.

The purpose of the first one is essentially what’s described above – a tool for you and a proof of effort.

The second one is somewhat different: it will be used by yourself to check that you’re ready to test, and by your interviewers to understand exactly where you stand and where to direct feedback. It’s also used to assess your Self-Evaluation skill, one of the 9 Qualities. Judging requires adaptation, be it to new policies, new procedures, new judges, new organizers. It requires ability to learn and question oneself in order to never stagnate. These are elements we’ll be looking for in your checklist self-review, so your views also need to be supported by examples.

As you know, in order to be promoted to L3, you need to show competence across all 9 Qualities. At most two of them can be Minor Deficiencies, that is significantly below what’s expected from a beginning L3. That means the second self-review must compare your performance to that of an L3.

To recap, what we’re looking for:

  • Initial self-review:
    1. Examples of your performance
    2. Critical thinking about your performance
    3. Coverage of all 9 Qualities
    4. A plan for improvement
  • Checklist self-review:
    1. Examples of your performance
    2. Critical thinking about your performance
    3. Coverage of all 9 Qualities
    4. Comparison to L3 performance

You’ll notice that point 4 is different, and that’s exactly the reason why the same self-review might be suitable for the initial submission, but not for the final checklist.

 

Q: Do I need to submit every update to my self-review to the Verification Committee?

A: No. We need to hear from you exactly twice: for the initial self-review, and for the completed checklist. Once the initial self-review is validated you’re free to ask for recommendations, attaching it when you write to L3s.

 

Q: What if I want feedback on it?

A: There are plenty of resources available. The most natural would be your mentor, followed by your Regional Coordinator. You can write anyone from the Review Experts team. Finally, L3s you meet at large events will be happy to help you.

 

Q: Do I need to split my self-review in Qualities?

A: Yes, that’s very helpful. This division is how you’ll be evaluated for L3, so splitting will make you realize where you need to focus your efforts.

 

Q: Can I split a Quality between Strengths and Areas for Improvement?

A: I would advise against it, though it’s not an absolute rule. I’ve found that splitting a Quality tends to make the self-review easier to write, but not in a good way. Absolutely everyone has positive and negative aspects in each Quality, and if you don’t have to make a choice you’ll write generalities that could apply to anyone. The self-review should be personal. Make a choice for the Quality and put it all in Strengths or all in Areas for Improvement.

 

Q: Do I have to grade the self-review, i.e. assign for each Quality one of Excellent, Good, Area for Improvement, Deficient?

A: For the checklist self-review yes. For the initial self-review you don’t need to do it, but it needs to be clear which area(s) you’ll be focusing on next. I’ve found that it’s good to have no more than 3 focus areas; more and you’ll be confused as for what to pay attention to in your next events. Learning requires you to do something consciously multiple times before it becomes subconscious; you can’t focus on too many things at once. It will always be time to get new priorities once you’ve learned a skill or two.

 

Q: Do I have to rewrite my self-review completely between the initial and checklist one?

A: No, you can reuse large parts of the text as long as you think they’re still applicable. The self-review is not a literature exercise but a communication tool. It needs to be clear, not original.

 

Q: My L3 mentors were so fast in writing recommendations that nothing else happened to me. Can I use exactly the same self-review?

A: You certainly can. Just be aware that criteria for acceptance are slightly different.

 

Finally, let me recommend some further reading on the topic of self-reviews:

http://blogs.magicjudges.org/articles/2013/08/13/l3-qualities-self-evaluation/

http://blogs.magicjudges.org/feedback/2016/10/11/taking-selfies-part-three/

http://blogs.magicjudges.org/feedback/2016/11/15/taking-selfies-part-four/

Thanks for reading,

Daniel